3 Reasons Your Coaching Strategy Isn’t Working

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May 17, 2017

Coaching strategies that aren’t personalized to individual employees will likely fail. So coaching must be flexible, with every employee having the opportunity to advance their skills and knowledge.

The best way to personalize coaching strategies is by providing a one-on-one experience with employees. In fact, according to my company’s research, employees who prefer to receive coaching from their manager are 5.6 percentage points more engaged than those who don’t, and employees who prefer peer-to-peer coaching are an impressive 8 percentage points more engaged.

Personalizing is crucial, yet many factors play into successful coaching. If your team isn’t progressing like you had hoped, here are 3 reasons why your coaching strategy might be failing:

1. Company leaders aren’t consistent

With tight deadlines and quarterly goals to hit, managers and employees tend to throw coaching in wherever it fits. However, Laurel McDermott, HR business partner at Frontline Education, knows the importance of coaching regularly. Her company’s consistent coaching approach helps her team take employee learning to a whole new level. As a result of a successful coaching strategy, the company productivity is excelling.

“At Frontline Education, the process of coaching employees is woven into our core values. One value specifically states that we will ‘Invest in our employees through mentoring and professional development,’” said McDermott.

Weaving coaching into their culture doesn’t mean they focus on it once a month. At Frontline Education, employees are motivated to ask questions, observe peers, and learn every single day. This promotes habitual and consistent growth.

Get senior leadership involved by challenging them to find a new coaching opportunity each workday. This encourages leadership to make strong connections every day with their team about the values of coaching.

Seeing senior leadership believe in and surround themselves with new coaching strategies daily will likely allow employees to become receptive to monthly career conversations. This in turn opens the door for honest discussions about what’s working and where adjustments are needed.

2. Your team can’t handle feedback

Coaching, especially in a one-on-one setting, can be very personal. When employees are unprepared for comments on either side of the spectrum, they’re likely to shut down, causing all coaching efforts to be wasted and potentially even backfire.

Personalizing your coaching strategy is crucial in helping employees accept and use feedback. One employee might thrive off the immediate implementation of any type of feedback, whether another employee might shut down and self-criticize upon hearing critical feedback.

It’s this type of unique learning, processing, and use of feedback that requires HR leaders to help managers and peers understand how to coach and give critical tips to their team.

For example, at Qualcomm, employees ask and answer each other’s technical questions on an internal platform. Employees vote on the answers, and the best rise to the top. Each employee then receives points for activity and engagement as well as receives badges for going above and beyond, like answering a question still unanswered after 30 days.

Qualcomm’s gamification process answers employees’ questions and gets teamwork flowing, allowing everyone to feel more comfortable giving and receiving feedback from one another.

As your team learns to ask questions and accept comments from their peers, facilitate a feedback loop. A feedback loop looks something like this: learning and development, coaching, restart with more learning and development, and then coaching on newer, more detailed points.

3. Employees aren’t self-sufficient

Your team has the ability to take the coaching reigns. They may just need a push in the managing-up direction.

The end goal is to encourage employees to get involved in peer-to-peer coaching, but the process begins with managers coaching employees on taking that next step. This means being completely open and honest about what management and the company needs, and how employees can provide this to co-workers through their own form of coaching.

In a Business News Daily article, Guy Yehiav, CEO of prescriptive analytics company Profitect, shared his thoughts on managing up: “In reality, this allows a lower-level employee to strengthen their skill set and put in place the leadership practices that they personally think are for the greater good of the company.”

Once a month, encourage managers to bring their entire team together for a brainstorming session on goals. Each employee should bring an idea for one company-wide, one departmental, and one personal goal.

Giving employees the power to come up with their own goals and helping them to achieve those goals is the first step in growing the confidence to help with coaching. Then, nudge them to take the next step by scheduling peer-to-peer coaching sessions so your team can take over and help one another reach their goals.

This type of frequent, high-quality coaching will help employees see their co-workers and managers as competent, able, and trustworthy. Creating this strong bond will strengthen relationships and help your team accomplish all goals more effectively.

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